Last May, my son died. We knew he was sick for 4 months, and that sooner or later – but probably sooner – he would die. Life forever changed.
January 7th, 2013, marks the moment where my life forever changed. In what we thought was going to be our fun, find out the gender, 20 week ultrasound, we found out that our baby was very sick. The next day we visited the specialists who told us our baby had a rare chromosomal syndrome, Trisomy 18, and that it was fatal. I have some incredibly detailed memories of those day and first weeks after finding out, but at the same time, those days and weeks are all a blur.
Our lives used to be pretty normal. We are your pretty typical, average people. We went to college, got married, worked, had a baby, all of those things people do. We’ve had our good and bad moments, like everyone. And both of our families have known tragedy, but generally speaking, he and I had lived pretty normal, easy lives until last year. Once we found out that our baby was dying, our whole world changed. Gabriel changed our lives. But with this devastating news came a different life for us. Nothing seemed normal any more. I would watch normal life go on around me while I felt anything but normal.
We adjusted to a new normal. We adjusted to having a dying child. We adjusted to talking about health and death and Heaven and love with our 18 month old. Instead of shopping at baby stores or boutiques, we looked at coffins and plots of land. We adjusted to how to answer the questions people asked about my growing belly. All of this really crazy stuff became our normal life.
Then our baby was born alive. We got to spend some time with him before he died. We grieved hard those first weeks and months, like anyone does. I remember so much wondering how our life could ever be normal after losing a child. We were so glad our baby was in Heaven and that he was no longer sick, and we had great hope we would see him again one day and that God would sustain us here. But it still hurt a lot. It was like my brain couldn’t process. But sure enough, as sure as it was part of us and our story, we did come a place of having a new normal. A place where our 2 year old asks to go to the cemetery. A place where I celebrate holidays by decorating a grave. A place where we are a family of 4, but only 3 of us are here on this earth. That was our new normal.
And now, as we are many months out from the loss of our second son, I can say that life feels pretty normal. Well, most days. But that’s true for all of us, right? I feel like we maybe all have a new normal in some way or another. Maybe it’s because of a death. Maybe it’s a job loss. Maybe it’s because you have a kid who never sleeps. Maybe you live far away from those you love, or you live too close to those you love. Maybe you want to have children so badly but haven’t been able to yet. Maybe your kids were born from another woman but you are their mama. Maybe your marriage isn’t what you dreamed it would be. Maybe your life and marriage and kids are more than you ever thought you’d have.
We all have to adjust in life some time or another. Most of us will know, if we haven’t already, what it’s like to have to figure out a new normal. And it’s hard and it’s scary, and it can be kind of the worst. But I know for me, it’s changed who I am, and I will always remember those precious days.